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Oregon Leads the Way in Reducing Preterm Births

PHOTO: A combination of factors is credited for Oregon's progress in reducing preterm births. Fewer women smoke, more have health insurance, and hospitals won't induce early labor without a solid medical reason, says the March of Dimes' Oregon chapter. Photo courtesy March of Dimes.
PHOTO: A combination of factors is credited for Oregon's progress in reducing preterm births. Fewer women smoke, more have health insurance, and hospitals won't induce early labor without a solid medical reason, says the March of Dimes' Oregon chapter. Photo courtesy March of Dimes.
November 19, 2014

PORTLAND, Ore. - More brand-new Oregonians are off to a good start, as the state gets an "A" for its efforts to reduce the number of premature births. A new March of Dimes report card by state says Oregon's preterm birth rate of 9.3 percent is well below the U.S. average of 11.4 percent and even tops the organization's national goal for 2020.

Joanne Rogovoy, director of program services and government affairs with the March of Dimes Oregon chapter, says a combination of factors has kept the preterm birth figures lower here for the past three years.

"Every hospital in Oregon has adopted a policy against early elective deliveries without a medical reason, prior to 39 weeks," Rogovoy says. "We have lower rates of women who smoke tobacco; tobacco smoke is a risk factor for preterm birth."

She says more needs to be done, but expanding health insurance coverage also has been significant, allowing more women to get the prenatal care they need. Oregon is one of only five states to get a top grade on its preterm birth report card.

Rogovoy also credits a support-group approach for expectant moms' prenatal visits being used by some clinics. It's known as "centering" care, and she says it is proving to be effective.

"It does provide support and reduces isolation," says Rogovoy. "You get your personal time with your healthcare provider, but really, the information and the sharing are coming from the women."

Rogovoy says the specific cause isn't clear, but factors that can increase any woman's risk of preterm birth include smoking, some types of infections, and some chronic conditions such as high blood pressure or diabetes.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - OR